Pre-K may be available at no cost for your child

Leising

Recent studies prove that high-quality pre-K education can help close the academic readiness gap between low-income children and their peers, according to State Senator Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg).

To address education inequities, Leising said the Indiana General Assembly passed House Enrolled Act 1004 in 2017 and House Enrolled Act 1628 in 2019.

HEA 1004 authorizes funds for a technology-based, in-home pre-K program, called “UPSTART.” Through this program, children are taught early reading, math and science through instructional hours, lessons, activities, books and animated songs.

Students follow their own personalized learning path, but must use the program at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, the year before entering kindergarten.

Families without internet or computer access will be provided with a Chromebook and satellite internet. Additionally, families will be partnered with a personal care representative who will monitor each child’s progress. Access to live help by phone or email is available six days a week.

In Senate District 42, eligible counties include Decatur, Fayette, Franklin, Henry, Ripley, Rush and Shelby counties.

During the recent legislative session, lawmakers passed HEA 1628, which expands the On My Way Pre-K Grant to all 92 counties. Initially established as a pilot program in 2014, the On My Way Pre-K grant awards money to low-income families who wish to enroll their child in a pre-K program.

To be eligible for the grant, families must qualify as a low-income household, children must be four years old and starting kindergarten in the 2020-2021 school year, and parents or guardians must be working, job training or completing their education.

Franklin, Ripley, Rush and Shelby counties have approved On My Way Pre-K providers. At this time, Decatur, Fayette and Henry counties do not have any approved On My Way Pre-K providers.

"UPSTART and the On My Way Pre-K grant are initiatives committed to ensuring that every child in Indiana has access to high-quality pre-K education," Leising said. "I strongly urge eligible residents living in Senate District 42 to apply for either resource to ensure that their child is ready for elementary school."

If you are interested in learning more about UPSTART and to find out if your family qualifies, visit waterfordupstart.org/how-it-works or call 800-669-4533.

If you are interested in learning more about the On My Way Pre-K Grant or becoming a provider, visit OnMyWayPreK.org or call 800-299-1627.

"I encourage you to contact me if you have any questions, comments or concerns regarding legislative topics that I may address at Senator.Leising@iga.in.gov or by calling 800-382-9467," Leising said.